Medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, but anyone who is going to use it will likely have to pay a hefty fee, get a background check, be fingerprinted and may have to give up their guns. If this doesn’t make a user feel like a criminal, chances are nothing will.
There are also a host of cost factors involved that medical marijuana users will have to pay for. These range from a basic $150 application fee for the official identification card, to $30 to $50 for fingerprinting, depending where it is done.
Legalized about five months ago as an “alternative treatment for serious diseases” that cause a number of debilitating conditions and chronic pain, possession of marijuana in Illinois is still a federal offense; and as such, it is totally against the law. So, if people are sick, they can use it within certain parameters – still to be finalized. Otherwise, they cannot.
The FBI has confirmed that just about 99 of every 100 arrests for marijuana-related crimes are carried out under state law and not federal law. So changing the state law of Illinois will certainly protect people who need to use marijuana for medical reasons.
The state’s 48 pages of proposed rules and regulations were published on Tuesday via the Illinois Department of Public Health website, and public comment was called for by February 7. After this deadline, all comments will be submitted to a legislative panel that will decide by the end of April 2014 what the medical marijuana laws in Illinois will fully cover. The final act is likely to be called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
This new state-based law is in effect a pilot project for legal medical marijuana in Illinois that is set to run for four years, and it carries with it some of the strictest standards ever set in America. So people shouldn’t feel too threatened if they think that some of the requirements may make users feel a bit like a criminal.
Coordinator of the program within the state, Bob Morgan, sees Illinois as setting a very important standard that follows a kind of transparency that is unprecedented in the USA. He has confirmed that patients will be allowed to apply progressively, depending on the first initial of their last name. This is the only way the process will be manageable and means that those with names beginning with M to Z will probably only be able to submit applications towards the end of the year.
New Illinois Legislation
The State of Illinois acknowledges that cannabis has been used medically for about 5,000 years. It also confirms that modern medicine exploits beneficial uses of marijuana or cannabis when it comes to treating a host of symptoms that are associated with a number of hugely debilitating illnesses. These include cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis (MS) for which there is no known cure. It also acknowledges that marijuana can provide relief where traditional medicine cannot, not only for pain but also for some of the horrible side effects that conventional modern medicine causes. These depend on the medical conditions being treated.
Additionally, in the proposed legislation, it states that marijuana has already been recommended to at very least 600,000 patients by thousands of physicians who are licensed with states where medical marijuana is legal.
The growing number of recognized medical bodies, including the American College of Physicians, continue to give it credibility.
The regulations are mammoth, and they do not yet include all the rules that cultivation centers and dispensaries need to follow. They do though explain who can apply and what they need to do to get the relevant identification cards, together with fingerprinting.
There are more than 40 different conditions that qualify patients to use marijuana in Illinois, with very specific recommendations from doctors and physicians who need to be able to certify the condition of any patient feeling the need to use legal medical marijuana. Anyone who needs it will be able to get it, but there is little doubt that all the legal requirements may make users feel like a criminal on legal drugs.
Editorial by Penny Swift